Press Releases

McKeon & Jasey Celebrate 'Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week ' with Seth Boyden & NJ Farm To School Network at Strawberry Fields: Lead Assembly Sponsor of Measure Receives Award for Promoting 'Jersey Fresh' in Schools, Providing Boost to Industry that Generated $1.12B in 2011.

Beth Feehan of NJ Farm to School Network presents Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-Essex\Morris) with a plaque in recognition of sponsoring the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week. Photo Courtesy: Gita Bajaj, New Jersey General Assembly

Assemblyman John F. McKeon (Essex\Morris), the lead Assembly sponsor of the measure to designate the last week of September as 'Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week,' celebrated the initiative with more than 100 fifth graders and Principal Mark Quiles at 'Strawberry Fields,' the school garden of Seth Boyden Demonstration School located at 274 Boyden Avenue in Maplewood.

They were joined by Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey (Essex\Morris), New Jersey Farm to School Network Director Beth Feehan, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Susie Adamson, several garden parent volunteers including Virginia Lamb who is also an environmental educator, and Lorraine Gibbons, one of the parents who helped start the garden 12 years ago.

The measure (A-2854) that was signed into law in January 2011, dedicates the last week in September to promoting the value and importance of New Jersey’s agriculture and fresh farm foods including Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, and to cultivating healthier food choices for children. A growing number of schools like Seth Boyden are also including gardens into their curriculum.

Sign Up for E-News

As they stood in the middle of Strawberry Fields, McKeon engaged fifth graders with a presentation on the importance of Jersey Fresh.

“What we are doing here by growing fruits and vegetables and eating more nutritious Jersey Fresh produce is cultivating healthier food choices and helping our state’s farming industry, which generated about $1.12 billion in annual revenue for the economy in 2011,” McKeon told the fifth graders.

The lawmaker went through the list of nine fruits and vegetables in which New Jersey is among the top 10 producers in the nation. These include cranberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, snap beans, spinach and squash.

“There are an estimated 10,300 farms in our state that grow about 100 varieties of Jersey Fresh produce,” McKeon added, noting that food and agriculture are the state’s third largest industry, next to pharmaceuticals and tourism.

In his remarks, Principal Mark Quiles told the students that the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week was established to focus attention on the state’s Farm to School Program, which connects schools to local farmers, and encourages more nutritious meals in schools.

"Strawberry Fields was started 12 years ago with tremendous support from the PTA as a way to enhance the learning experience of students. It provides an opportunity for students to experience discovery and reflection in a tangible way as they interact with nature. Our gardens provide a means of engaging students with outdoor learning, which is in keeping with the school's philosophy of multiple intelligences, that children are and grow smart in many different ways," Quiles said.

There are more than 30 Jersey Fresh items that students grow in the garden year-round. These include apples, herbs, cucumbers, beans, okra, kale, chard, collards, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets, lettuce, spinach and arugula.

Strawberry Fields is named in honor of inventor and industrialist Seth Boyden, who owned the original property on which the school is built, and cultivated the modern strawberry. After retirement, Boyden spent his time hybridizing strawberries and in fact, many of the strawberries we eat today originate from the seeds of his garden.

"School gardens are an integral part of teaching children about the natural world through hands-on, skill building learning," Feehan said. "Through a statewide contest and survey this year, we have counted more than 240 school gardens and know that there may be more out there. In addition to having a wide range of local produce, New Jersey is truly the School Garden State of the year."

Strawberry Fields was among the top 20 finalists in the inaugural 'School Garden of the Year' award from the NJ Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey. 165 entries were received for the statewide contest that was won by Eugene A. Tighe Middle School and William H. Ross Elementary School in Margate City.

During the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week event, Jasey and McKeon presented Feehan and Quiles with a joint legislative resolution honoring the state's Farm to School Network and Seth Boyden.

“Today’s celebration is special to me for several reasons. The concept of an elementary school using Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences approach to learning began when I was on the Board of Education, following which my daughter taught at Seth Boyden for six years. I have continued to follow the work of teachers, administrators and parents to make the school a place where children love to learn,” Jasey (D-Essex\Morris) said. “The garden and outdoor space enhance the learning inside the classrooms and are together responsible for distinguishing Seth Boyden as a leader in education.”

Feehan recognized McKeon for sponsoring the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week legislation. She presented him with a plaque that includes a pitchfork and a spade.

"The New Jersey Farm to School Network is honored to salute Assemblyman John McKeon for the legislation that he introduced which has become Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week. This annual event will allow schools to highlight the agricultural producers in our state every year and to show school children why New Jersey was named the Garden State. It will teach them about eating healthy and supporting our state's farmers," Feehan said.

“Beth Feehan has been a driving force in promoting the state’s agricultural fare and local farmers, as well as in supporting policies to improve school meals and encourage school gardens,” McKeon said as he accepted the award. “It has been a pleasure working with her to promote Jersey Fresh.”

The event at Seth Boyden also featured garden related educational activities as well as tastings of local and seasonal produce. Alstede Farms and Stony Hills Farms & Garden donated more than 60 lbs of apples and vegetables for the children.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 15, 2018

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Four Auto Thefts Reported Between June 21 and June 29

South Orange Police Blotter as of July 1

Auto Theft - A Seton Pl. resident reported that sometime between 11:00 pm, Wednesday 6-27-18 and 7:00 am, Thursday 6-28-18 actor(s) unknown stole his vehicle (2005 Toyota ), which was parked in the driveway at the time. The actor(s) entered another one of the victim's vehicles that was parked in the driveway, rummaged through the interior & ...

Photos: 2018 Maplewoodstock Music & Art Festival

July 15, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewoodstock was back July 14 and July 15 for its 15th weekend of live music, food, kids activities and more in Maplewood's Memorial Park.

Maplewoodstock opened at noon on Saturday with local SOMA band Amish Internet, and ended the day with the Reggae band Third World.

On Sunday, the first performance of the day was from Maplewood native Autumn ...

South Orange Summer Nights Moonlit Movies Start Wed., Aug. 15

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Starting Wednesday, Aug. 15, South Orange Summer Nights will host three weeks of Moonlit Movies.

Films are shown at 8 p.m. at Floods Hill in Meadowland Park.

Schedule is as follows:

Wed., Aug. 15 - Coco  (2017 Rated PG) 
Wed., Aug. 22 - Jumanji  (2017 Rated PG-13)
Wed., Aug. 29 - Despicable Me ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

Caldwell University Alumni Theater, Caldwell

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use ...

Health & Wellness


Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Paterson Board of Education , Paterson

Teacher Job Fair in Paterson



Fri, July 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, July 20, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018


We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

3rd Annual Newark International Film Festival Accepting Submissions

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Three days filled with celebrity guests and showcases from both local and international filmmakers are coming to the city in September.

The third annual Newark International Film Festival will return Sept. 6 and run through Sept. 9, 2018. The festival has grown each year since it was first created, with the city last year hosting 10,000 attendees seeing films across ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Downtown Scotch Plains May Eventually Look Like Princeton, According to Redevelopment Committee Feedback

July 15, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Residents who attended the Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee (SPDRC) meeting on Wednesday night got a peak into what the future of the township will look like… and it looks a lot like Princeton.

Tom Strowe, the Township’s Project Coordinator for Redevelopment, presented findings of the recent survey on architectural styles. More than 2,100 ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Repairs to Boyden Avenue Between Elmwood Avenue and Springfield Avenue

July 15, 2018

On Monday, July 16, road repairs to the south side of Boyden Avenue between Elmwood Avenue and Springfield Avenue will take place for approximately one week pending weather conditions. There will be access to the pool parking lot for pool members and NJ Transit employees. Signage and police officers will be present to direct traffic.

Valley Street Milling and Paving Commencing July 16

On Monday, July 16, road repairs to Valley Street between Hixon Pl. and Millburn Ave. will begin as part of the Essex County 2018 Roadway Program. The work will last approximately until July 30, and will take place during the night. Please adhere to traffic signage and police officers during this time as work is being completed. 

Bike for the Bean! CycleBar Livingston Event to Raise Funds for Food Pantry

Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity (MEND) is hosting a “Bike for the Bean” fundraiser at CycleBar Livingston on Saturday, July 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. This event will raise funds for MEND’s new mobile food pantry, a converted school bus known as “The Green Bean.” Donations for this event will allow MEND to purchase and distribute more fresh and healthy ...